Wales

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct railings review follows fall death

Kristopher McDowell with his mother Sam Jackson Image copyright Slater and Gordon
Image caption Kristopher McDowell with his mother Sam Jackson

The size of the gaps in a safety railing on an aqueduct where a teenager fell to his death are to be reviewed.

Kristopher McDowell, 18, from Cefn Mawr, Wrexham, fell from Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in May 2016.

An inquest heard he was with friends when he squeezed on to the outside of the barrier and part of it "came away in his hands".

Coroner John Gittins raised concerns with the Canal and Rivers Trust which said it was holding a review.

In March, an inquest jury recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

The trust has responded to the coroner's prevention of future deaths report which highlighted concerns about the size of the gaps, as well as procedures used to test the fence's safety.

Image copyright Arpingstone
Image caption The aqueduct opened in 1805 carrying Llangollen Canal over the River Dee

In his report, the coroner noted the average space between the barrier's uprights was 195mm, whilst the current industry standard was 110mm.

In response, the trust said it "considers that the aqueduct is safe for normal use".

However, it added that "as visitor safety - and perception of safety - remains our paramount concern, we have decided to explore... how the perceived potential risk presented, including an abnormal use of the aqueduct, by the current gaps between the uprights, can be further reduced".

Image copyright Canal and Rivers Trust
Image caption New warning signs have been put up at the aqueduct

The trust said it had started an investigation of the "physical options available". Any changes would require statutory approval.

The trust has also fitted new safety signs at the aqueduct which stands at 126ft (38m), warning about the "wide gaps in the historic railings".

Addressing the coroner's concerns, the trust said it was "satisfied that our inspection regime is proportionate and repeatable".

It added that it was not complacent and "very concerned that there should be public confidence in our stewardship".

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